Strauss and Cook set the platform against toothless Indian bowling
Lunch: Fourth Test, day one, The Oval
Match score: England 75-0 (Strauss 38*, Cook 34*)
Session score: England 75-0 England win
Even in the nether reaches of the County Championship’s second division the cricket has more intensity than the first session of this final Test.
There was a full house, of course, and the expected bad weather was held at bay – is there nothing Strauss and Cook cannot withstand?
But the atmosphere was a sociable buzz rather than the primeval roars of Edgbaston. If England start to dominate that will undoubtedly change. It might even change this afternoon once the Veuve and the Pedigree take effect.
Indian hands were in pockets and there was the same of air of ambivalence that has come to characterise most of their play in this series.
The over-rate was dilatory as ever, not helped by constant issues with spectators moving behind the bowler’s arm.
The overhead conditions were in the seamers’ favour even in the pitch wasn’t but apart from one unplayable ball from Ishant Sharma and a bouncer from the same bowler that hit Andrew Strauss on the peak of his helmet, there was nothing to suggest England will not make a big score.
RP Singh, who hasn’t played a Test for more than three years and has taken 0 for 249 in his last four Test innings, replaced for the injured Praveen Kumar. He was given the first over too, a decision based – if ever there was – on hope (he’s a left-armer) over expectation. Most of the over disappeared down the leg side out of reach of the batsman.
What sort of message it sent to Sressanth or Sharma is anyone’s guess but it served England, who won the toss. perfectly well.
Strauss and Cook pootled along at just under three an over in a partnership of staggering – almost forgettable – simplicity. But there were one or two memorable shots: a fierce cut for four by Cook off RP Singh and a fine on drive by Strauss off Sreesanth.
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John